I had just settled in for an hourlong bus ride. I forgot my earphones, so I couldn’t use the time to listen to music or a podcast on my iphone. I settled back in the seat, and I noticed that the song on the radio had an Indian sound to it. It made me think of a Bollywood movie. A big song and dance extravangaza out of one of those movies from India, where more films are produced each year than in any other country. Can you picture this scene? Lots of people, dancing, smiling, singing. They are enrobed in bright oranges, pinks, greens and purples, and the musical number comes to a crescendo with a big choreographed finale. I don’t know what makes these movies sell. If I had to guess, it might have something to do with the authenticity, the exotic flair, the bright colors and unique sounds. (unique perhaps to those of us not from India) You might not be a fan of it, but it draws you in, and you can’t look away.
Now if we peel ourselves away from this Bollywood scene, and we think about public speaking, we can draw some similarities. Yes, I’m being serious here. We want to connect to our audience. We want to draw them in and command their attention. We can list the facts, share our messages, give a big smile, and we’re done. But let’s really bring them into it. Try describing a situation, a story which illustrates a point. And when you tell that story, perhaps something specific which you experienced first hand, take the audience back to that place and time with you.
Did you not prepare photos for your presentation? That’s ok. Use words that paint a picture. Provide the audience with a virtual experience. Describe the colors, the smells, the sounds, the sights in that story, using whatever is applicable and appropriate. If you’re trying to persuade your audience of something, you want them to be in that place where you are, so that you can convince them to agree with you or mobilize to take action as a result of your speech.
No, don’t go and describe a Bollywood song and dance scene, when you’re tying to persuade a board of directors to approve the annual budget. But share a memory of the past or a vision for the future. Be detailed in your description. Let ’em really taste it. And when you’ve hit that crescendo of what was or what could be, then bring home your point and make the sell.